Down Periscope is one of those movies that you just keep coming back to. It’s not the best or the brightest, but it never ceases to be funny, and no matter how many times you watch it, you can’t help but laugh. This movie came out in the mid-90s when there were a bunch of Tom Clancy-based nuke sub movies out, and this was a great spoof on them.
Lt. Cmdr. Thomas ‘Tom’ Dodge (Kelsey Gammer) is a unorthodox navy commander with a great background, but there are places where his character is under scrutiny. He is chosen to command a diesel sub for a series of wargames in which a renegade diesel sub can out-maneuver the modern nuke subs and battleship in the waters off North Carolina and Virginia. He has one admiral, Vice Adm. Dean Winslow (Rip Torn), who is with him every step of the way, and one that is against everything he attempts to do, RAdm. Yancy Graham (Bruce Dern). Graham has picked a crew of motley misfits for Commander Dodge, and the old USS Stingray, a sub that had been decommissioned in 1958. The crew features a snarky gambler (Jonathan Penner), an NBA wannabe (Duane Martin), an uptight XO (Rob Schneider), a hick with amazing hearing (Harland Williams), a rebel with a bad attitude (Bradford Tatum), a wise diesel mechanic brought out of retirement (Harry Dean Stanton),an electrician that has taken on way too much voltage to his body (Toby Huss), a wise-cracking, sometimes overly-flatulent chubby cook (Ken Hudson Campbell), and the experimental, emotional and doubting dive officer (Lauren Holly). They are to take on a Los Angeles class nuclear sub, the USS Orlando, as well as some support ships and planes to test out Admiral Winslow’s theory about what could happen if the captain of one of the old Soviet subs that was sold off to a politically hot countries could do if he was clever enough. Dodge’s history makes him the perfect man for the job. There is one incident that keeps popping up about him getting so inebriated after a botched mission that he ended up getting a tattoo on his penis that reads “Welcome Aboard”. Winslow tells him to not go by the book, but to think like a pirate. He uses this advice, and ends up taking the Stingray and her crew through many risky maneuvers while attempting to evade the Orlando, which is commanded by Cmdr. Carl Knox (William H. Macy).
There are so many funny twists in this movie, I’m sure even Tom Clancy found it funny if he got the chance to watch it. It’s an hour and half of nautical fun that should not be missed, and makes for a great diversion for an evening with the teens and older members of the family.
I give this film a Musing review of